Bluewater Health Foundation to feature Jessica Holmes at upcoming gala

Fundraiser will support new mental health access initiative

Bluewater Health Foundation has announced the featured speaker for its annual Thursday, October 17 charity gala as

Jessica Holmes, a comedian, author and mental health advocate perhaps best known for her role on CBC’s Royal Canadian Air Farce.

The event, which is sponsored by NGL Supply Co. Ltd., will take place at Huron Oaks in Brights Grove.

“We’re extremely excited to transition to a new era of our signature gala,” says Kathy Alexander, executive director, Bluewater Health Foundation. “After six years of hosting a formal, classic event, this year we’re excited to offer more of an immersive experience for our guests. The unique space at Huron Oaks coupled with the comedic talents of Jessica Holmes is the perfect way to create that experience.”

Holmes has brought the house down opening for giants such as Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Peters, Jerry Seinfeld, and Oprah Winfrey. Her hilarious take on life’s challenges as well as her unique knack for skewering celebrities (including Nicki Minaj and Celine Dion) have audiences in stitches.

Behind the laughter though, Holmes — like millions of Canadians — has struggled both with post-partum depression and, as she puts it, “regular, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety depression.”

Hoping to help end the stigma around mental health issues, she openly shares her personal stories with the humour she’s known for, bringing light — and laugh-out-loud laughter — to what can often be a dark topic. Her funny and inspiring new book, Depression The Comedy: A Tale of Perseverance, was published in May, and takes readers deeper into her mental health journey with validation and warmth.

Since 2013, the Foundation’s annual gala has successfully raised approximately $400,000 for important initiatives and departments at Bluewater Health.

This year, funds raised will support Mental Health and Addictions Services at Bluewater Health, specifically the establishment of an ACCESS Open Minds Centre in the community.

Bluewater Health, in partnership with Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent and St. Clair Child and Youth Services, is committed to the design and implementation of an ACCESS Open Minds site for Sarnia-Lambton.

This community based, collaborative model will transform how existing services are delivered, resulting in improved access and engagement for youth and families seeking mental health and addictions care. Together, we have an opportunity to make a transformational change in the way that mental health and addictions care is provided to children and adolescents in the Sarnia-Lambton community.

“This is a unique opportunity to change how our youth’s generation associate mental health care as a mainstream health resource, reducing the potential long term impact that mental illness can have if gone undetected,” said Paula Reaume-Zimmer, Bluewater Health integrated vice president, Mental Health & Addictions Services. “A Sarnia-Lambton ACCESS Open Minds Centre will be designed not just for youth in our community but with them, to ensure their needs are met, their voices are heard and that the hub reflects the needs of our community. The generous support of our community will help make this centre a reality”

n addition to Holmes’ keynote address, the gala will include a four-course meal, live auction, musical entertainment, and a few added surprises.

“We’re really excited to offer something new and unique that has never been done before all while raising funds for an important cause,” said Alexander. “We think people will be very surprised at what’s in store this year.”

Tickets are $250 each and are on sale now at Bluewater Health Foundation in person, by calling 519-464-4408, or online at bwhf.ca. Each ticket includes a charitable tax receipt for $100.

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